26 - Panorama of History
R/Dean Daniel Lesson 26
Panorama of History – Daniel 7:1
We're not going to get very far in Daniel this evening. There is a major shift taking place in the book of Daniel between Daniel 6 and Daniel 7. Daniel 1-6 is more about Daniel and his life. Once we get into Daniel 7 we get into one of the most significant sections of prophecy in the Old Testament. This is really exciting; there's such detail here from Daniel 7, 8, 9, details about God's plan for history and how God is going to work out his plan, eventually restoring Israel to the land, details about God's plan of salvation for mankind and how God is at work behind the scenes, manipulating the progress, the rise and fall of nations, and all of this is forecast. All of this is prophesied down to, in some case, minute detail by the prophet Daniel. This is one of the greatest evidences that the Bible is not just the word of men about God or about their religious experiences but it is God's objective revelation to man.
As we go through this we're going to be impressed again and again with how Daniel, who lived in approximately 600-530 BC, how Daniel who wrote these prophecies and was who was given these visions by God, accurately foretells down to minute detail which kingdoms will rise, when they will fall, who will replace them and the characteristics of these kingdoms. This cannot happen by pure chance; this isn't like something you read in Nostradamus, it's not like something you read in the horoscope, in the newspaper, this is not something that can be manipulated by people to mean…now there's always people who come along who are ignorant of interpretation, any kind of interpretation techniques and they try to make Scripture mean whatever they want it to mean and they can come up with all kinds of crazy things, but interpretation is…and part of interpretation is a science, there are rules, and God interpreted these visions specifically, as we'll see when we get into Daniel 7, God sent an angel who, after Daniel received the vision the angel tells Daniel specifically what the elements of the vision mean. It's not up to Daniel to try to just guess and figure it out, it's not left for us to guess and figure out, but these symbols that we're going to see in Daniel 7 are figures that are used again and again in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, so that Daniel 7-12 truly is a key to understanding prophecy in both the Old and New Testament.
Let's remind ourselves of the outline of Daniel. What I want to do tonight is sort of congeal for us what we've studied so far in the first 6 chapters, I want to make sure we've got that down and understand that because that becomes the backdrop and the framework for understanding what is going to be covered in the next 6 chapters.
In Daniel 1 we see the history of the prophet; we learn about Daniel, he's a young man who is faced with a crisis, and he handles that crisis by applying the truths of the Word of God, the absolute principles of the Word of God that he has stored in his soul. He and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are not quite kidnapped but they are taken as captives, deported by a foreign power, by the Chaldean Empire under Nebuchadnezzar, they're deported to Babylon. There they are ripped away from their cultural background and because they are all four members of the aristocracy of Israel they are going to be retrained, the attempt is going to be made to reprogram them so that they can serve as bureaucrats in the Chaldean Empire. There we see that Daniel and his friends take a stand for the Word of God. They maintain their integrity, they maintain their faithfulness to the Mosaic Law, even when it come into conflict with the Chaldean Empire, God blesses them and they rise to the highest positions in the empire. Daniel rises to the chief of all the advisors to Nebuchadnezzar who was one of the greatest of all the ancient kings.
In the second section we studied the history of the Gentiles that is revealed from Daniel 2:1-7:28, and then from 8:1-12:13, the end of the book, the focus is on God's plan and program for Israel. So we're still in the section dealing with the history of the Gentile nations and this isn't history in terms of what has already happened, this is prophecy. Prophecy is history that is revealed by God ahead of time. So we see God's plan for the Gentiles and then God's plan for Israel. And this is mirrored by the fact that the first chapter is written in Hebrew, the language of the Jews; the middle section, from 2:1-7:28 is written in Aramaic which is a sister language to Hebrew but that was the lingua franca of the day in both the Chaldean Empire and the Persian Empire. And then when the shift goes back to Israel in 8:1-12:13 the language returns to Hebrew.
Before we get going I want to review this, why do we study prophecy? Why is this important to study prophecy? Too often when people get into prophecy they do it for some sort of sensational aspect, they do it because they want to satisfy their curiosity, there are all kinds of reasons people study prophecy. Sometimes I get the objection, why even study prophecy, it's more important to study issues that relate to our everyday life, learning about the problem solving devices, learning more about salvation and how Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and understanding the dynamics of the spiritual life. But prophecy is an important and vital aspect of Scripture and it covers a tremendous amount of Scripture. 28% of the Bible was prophetic when it was revealed; that means that at the time it was revealed to Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai, it was yet in the future. Some of that has already been fulfilled but not all of it. 28% of the Bible was prophetic when it was revealed. 15% of the Bible is still unfulfilled prophecy; that means a little less than one out of every five verses. 18% of the New Testament epistles, those epistles which were written to the Church for the Church, specifically for the Church Age believer, 18% of New Testament epistles, which is almost one out of every five verses in the New Testament, is unfulfilled prophecy.
One in twelve verses in the New Testament refers to the Second Coming of Christ. And if you don't understand the Second Coming of Christ you don't understand how that will come, when it comes, what the events are that surround that, then you will not understand what the Bible is talking about in those verses. One in ten verses in the epistles refers to the Second Coming of Christ, one in ten, so that's 10% of the epistles talk about the Second Coming of Christ. And then as one writer commented, more than, at least 60% of the verses in the New Testament are affected by eschatology issues, that's prophecy, the study of last things, that's what eschatology means, are affected by eschatology issues to be properly understood. That means they talk about the kingdom of God, they use a term like mystery, they talk about the blessed hope, they talk about the coming of Christ, something in those verses relates to prophecy. So if you don't understand what the Bible says about prophecy you don't understand God's overall plan and purpose for mankind, then you will not properly understand or interpret those verses and that's 60% of the New Testament.
So Daniel 7-12 is going to focus on prophecy. Now what does prophecy do for us? First of all prophecy, Biblical prophecy reminds us that God is sovereign. That's a principle that we've seen emphasized again and again in Daniel 1-6. God is demonstrating to the Jews that He is not just a God of Israel but He is the God over the Gentiles, He is the God who brought Nebuchadnezzar to his knees, because of Nebuchadnezzar's arrogance God caused him to succumb to a mental illness called boanthropy and for seven years he lived like an animal, ate grass, slept out in the fields, and then at the end of those seven years God restored his mind to him at which time Nebuchadnezzar realized that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Daniel, was the God of history and the God who brought him to power, despite his own tremendous abilities, God was in charge and at which time Nebuchadnezzar became an Old Testament believer. In the Old Testament you became saved by believing that God would provide a Savior in the future, and he trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God that Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had told him about, and he became a believer, knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ would come and die on the cross for our sins. So Bible prophecy reminds us that God is sovereign.
We saw this as a time of chaos for these men, that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego have seen their nation defeated in war, they have seen, probably family and friends killed, die of starvation, go through horrible suffering and yet they know that God is in charge, that there is nothing that happens in history that is outside the control of God, therefore they can relax in the midst of the most horrible circumstances.
The study of prophecy reminds us that God is good; it reminds us that God is good, that despite the fact that evil exists God eventually is going to triumph over evil. And that's an important point to realize because one of the things that you often hear people raise a question about concerning the Bible is how can you believe in God, how can a good God let horrible things happen to people. And God allows creatures to exercise their free will and that includes making bad decisions and evil decisions and the consequences of those decisions. And we see that played out in history, and yet only in Christianity is evil eventually conquered, confined and restricted for all eternity to the lake of fire because it will be judged at some point and there will be, as R. G. Lee once said in a famous sermon, there will be payday someday and there will be a final judgment. So the study of prophecy reminds us that God is good.
Third, the study of prophecy motivates us to prepare spiritually for eternity. We know that when we die physically that's not the end, that man is destined for either heaven or eternal condemnation, one or the other and the only solution is what do you think about Jesus Christ. See, God doesn't place it on works; works aren't going to be good enough because nobody can be good enough to merit the favor of God. God's standard is absolute perfection; nobody can be good enough so God sent Jesus Christ to go to the cross to die as a substitute for our sins, so that he would pay the penalty. Now the issue is simply whether or not we accept Christ as Savior.
Once you accept Christ as Savior and you are regenerated, Scripture says we're justified, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us," so once we're justified, then the issue is what are you going to do with your life. Those are the two most important decisions that anybody has to make: number one, what do you think about Jesus Christ, and number two, now that you are saved, what are you going to do? Are you going to continue to grow and advance in your spiritual life by studying the Word, making that the number one priority in life or are you just going to live life the way you want to, and basically forfeit much that is our birthright as believers. You won't lose your salvation but you will lose many of the blessings and many of the privileges that you would have had otherwise because of God's grace. So this is why we study prophecy.
As we look at Daniel we see there's two basic divisions in Daniel. In the first six chapters we have Daniel's personal history; we have the story of Daniel's rise from a young teenager brought in as a captive from Judah, his training in chapter 1, his elevation to the chief of all the advisors of Nebuchadnezzar. We saw in chapter 2 their testing with the great idol that Nebuchadnezzar set up, all the way up to Daniel's test in the lion's den in chapter 6 when he's an 83 year old man. So the first six chapters deal with Daniel's personal history and then chapters 7-12 are going to deal primarily with prophetic revelation. The visions that are given in chapters 7-12 were all given in the time framework of the first six chapters. So we know that when Daniel saw the handwriting on the wall, literally the finger writing on the wall in Daniel 5 announcing God's judgment on the Chaldean Empire, and the Persians were about to come in through the gates and wipe out that empire, when Daniel saw that he already had most of the information that we're learning about in chapter 7. Chapter 7 was given before that. When he went into the lion's den he already knew most of this information. But we're just now learning it.
So in the first section we studied the four Hebrews in chapter 1, then in chapter 2 we looked at the four empires, that's the chapter where Daniel interpreted the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that God gave him that would demonstrate and give through Nebuchadnezzar the outline of history for the Gentile nations. And that has played itself out precisely down through history and that becomes the framework for understanding Daniel 7. You can't understand Daniel 7 unless you have the framework of Daniel 2 to begin with.
The third chapter was the story of the fiery furnace when Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused to bow down to the idol, they're put in the fiery furnace and then all of a sudden Nebuchadnezzar looked in there and there weren't three men in there, there was a fourth man in there who was like the Son of God. Jesus Christ, the preincarnate Jesus Christ, in His preincarnate body, appeared there to demonstrate that He is the One who delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and not even their clothes were singed. Then we saw the fall of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4 as God taught Nebuchadnezzar who really put him on the throne and then Nebuchadnezzar's salvation and his decree to the entire nation, basically his gospel tract that he wrote to witness to the entire Babylonian Empire about the power of God and that God is the one who delivers. Then in chapter 5 the fingers writing on the wall announcing the judgment of the Chaldean Empire and the destruction that night by the armies of Cyrus under the General Gobyras. Then in chapter 6 the false accusation against Daniel when he is put into the lion's den.
That covered the first 6 chapters; now let's get an overview of where we're going, a little bit of a roadmap of where we're headed, chapters 7-12. First we'll look at the visions of the four beasts in chapter 7; the four beasts relate to the four kingdoms pictured by various metals, various precious metals in Daniel 2. Daniel 2 looked at them as man looks at them in terms of their strength, in terms of their value. Daniel 7 looks at them from God's perspective, looking at the basic nature of man as destructive. All of these beasts are carnivorous, they eat up man, they destroy man, and so we see a picture of the kingdom of man is basically self-destructive. Then we'll see the vision of the ram and the goat in chapter 8, which talks about the rise of the Greek Empire and its eventual collapse, and then the rise of the antichrist. Then there'll be the vision of the seventy sevens, that is the precise prophecy called Daniel's seventy weeks in Daniel 9 where God outlines to Daniel exactly how many days will occur between the issuing of a decree for the Jews to be returned to the land, they were returned to the land starting in 536 BC, but once Artaxerxes issued a decree for the Jews to go back to the land, then from that day until the time they entered into the land it was 183,000 plus days, I think it was 183,880 days, and that worked out to the exact day that Jesus Christ, as Messiah, entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. So here in 538 BC, 537 BC, somewhere in there, Daniel is given a prophecy that outlines down to the day how long it will be from the issuing of a decree by Artaxerxes, from the issuing of that decree until the time that Messiah will be cut off, and that just can't happen by chance. It came down to the very day that He entered into the kingdom, and then He's rejected, and then three days later he's put on the cross, the vision of the seventy weeks. Then fourth, we'll see the vision of the last days in chapters 10-12. So that's where we're headed in terms of our study of Daniel.
Now there are four things that come up in Israel's history around this time in the 6th century BC that demonstrate that God's game plan for history is going to radically shift. Up to this time the focus has been on Israel and Israel in the land, because God called out Israel as a special people, as a unique people, through whom God would witness to the world. Now remember that was their primary mission, was to be a witness to the world. Now in the Church Age the believer is to be a witness of the grace of God and of the message that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Now in the Old Testament the missionary agency was Israel. In the New Testament the Church is to go out; Jesus said to the disciples, teaching and baptizing, while you are going, all to obey Me. And so the apostles were to go out under the great commission in Matthew 28:19-10, the disciples were to go out and take the gospel and go to the world. So that's the mission of the believers, to take the gospel out to all the different kingdoms and nations in the world.
But in the Old Testament the Jews didn't leave Israel and go out, the world came to them because God gave them a plot of land that sat astride all of the major trade routes linking Europe to North Africa to Asia, so that the whole world came to Israel, and Israel was to be a witness living in the land under the Mosaic Law of the grace of God. They had a system set up under the Mosaic Law that provided the greatest freedom any nation in the ancient world ever knew. And so as travelers would come, as caravaners would come, the truck drivers of the ancient world, and they would bring their goods, they were on their way to Egypt from Babylon or on their way to Europe from India, wherever they were headed they would go through Israel and they would see this unique society, this unique culture and they'd say what makes them different. And the Jews could tell them about what God did for them in delivering them from slavery in Egypt, brought them across the Red Sea, took them through the wilderness and then gave them the land, and the victories that they had conquering the Canaanites as they took the land.
But they failed; they failed miserably to fulfill their role and responsibility in the Old Testament. That's why God disciplined them and took them out under what we call the fifth cycle of discipline, five levels of judgments God warned Israel that they would go through if they disobeyed him, and the ultimate or final or fifth cycle of discipline of is that they would be defeated militarily and taken from the land, and that happened to the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC when they were destroyed by the armies of Assyria; it happened in the south in 586 BC to the southern kingdom of Judah when Nebuchadnezzar's armies came in in 586 BC. So Israel is brought back to the land but only a remnant comes back to the land after the Babylonian captivity.
Many are still scattered throughout the land so there is a vast shift now…a shift. And the first major characteristic is that God's historical plan is going to focus on the Gentile nations. There is the announcement here of God's historical plan for the Gentile nations through the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. Now these Gentile empires, there were empires that preceded this, there was the Egyptian Empire, the Assyrian Empire, the Hittite Empire, but they did not function as world dominate empires in the same way that these empires after 600 BC functioned. So God is now going to work through these Gentile empires. Now we live in an era when people aren't too crazy about empires but that's what God is announcing. He's going to work through these Gentile nations. This is the statue we saw from the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. It had a head of gold, it had a chest and arms of silver, a waist, hips of brass, legs of iron and then the calves or the ankles and the feet were a mix of iron and potter's clay.
Daniel interpreted that vision for Nebuchadnezzar. He said Nebuchadnezzar was represented by the head of gold, that's the most valuable metal. He would be succeeded by a second kingdom, the Medo-Persian kingdom that would exist from 539-331 BC, that kingdom would then be succeeded by the brass which represented the kingdom of Greece from 331-146 BC, and then the final kingdom is iron, 146 BC to 1453 AD is the Roman Empire. But when the Roman Empire faded out it's not replaced by another empire. And this shows that the west is going to continue to be dominant in history until it comes back together with weakened elements as the final revival of the Roman Empire and that's indicated by the iron and clay. Now each of these kingdoms is going to be restated and more detail is given. See, that's the divine process of teaching. First God gives us the overview in Daniel 2, which is what I'm trying to do tonight is give us the overview of these things, and then in Daniel 7 he's going to come in and he's going to talk about these same succession of kingdoms under different imagery, the imagery of beasts. And then he's going to give more specificity to each of these empires. And then in Daniel 8 and 9 he's going to come back even again and deal more specifically with just two or three of these empires. So by the time we get through Daniel 12 we'll have learned a tremendous amount, no only about ancient history but also God's plan and program for the future of mankind.
So the first indication that something different was going to happen is the announcement of God's plan that He's going to work through these Gentile nations. Let's look at this chart; here is a chart laying out the basic dispensations, the basic outline of Israel's history into the Church Age. So we have the initial section here, the formation of Israel during the time of the patriarchs and Moses. That's followed by the period of the theocracy which covers the time from their entrance into the land until Saul is anointed king; that covers the period of the Judges, Ruth, and the early chapters of 1 Samuel. That's followed by the monarchy and the divided monarchy covered in the books of Kings and Chronicles. And then they go out into exile, 586 BC this is followed by a restoration of the southern kingdom only, it's covered in Ezra and Nehemiah, and Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and the Prophets, and that ends with the coming of Jesus Christ at the cross. The cross is the centerpiece of history. Everything in the Old Testament leads up to that.
You have God's announcement after the fall of Adam in the Garden, that He would send the seed of the woman that would destroy the seed of the serpent. And that becomes a picture of what happens at the cross when Jesus Christ defeats evil by paying the penalty for sin. You see what happens at the Garden of Eden is that God said I'm going to give you everything; God provided everything that Adam and Eve would need in the Garden, He provided every food substance, He provided all the information they needed, everyday He came and He walked with them and they must have had incredible conversations as they were going out exploring this fantastic creation and they were trying to understand it all and they would sit there and they would have classes every day as they learned about God and learned about creation. But God said He had a test for them because God was not going to create a robot to just follow Him blindly, He gave them an option. Love is not love unless it's given freely and so there is an option and their love for God was tested by the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And if they are from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then God said there would be an immediate consequence of spiritual death. And there would be a number of subsequent consequences of that which would bring evil into human experience along with a multitude of suffering and that's outlined in Genesis 3.
But as God pronounced the condemnation on them when they disobeyed Him He also gave them hope. He gave them the first promise that there would be a defeat of sin and that would take place at another tree, on the cross because it's on the cross of Calvary that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for every single sin that would take place in human history and the Old Testament is leading up to that and in Galatians 4:4 we're told it was "in the fullness of time" that Christ came through the woman. "In the fullness of time" means that God was working in human history to bring everything together so that it was the perfect situation for the coming of the Messiah. And it happened during the fourth kingdom, which is the Roman Empire, under the time of the Pax Romana, when Rome controlled much of the area in Europe and Asia, so there was a time of remarkable unprecedented peace in that area and the gospel could go out throughout the world. God prepared everything so that at just the right time Jesus Christ came to the earth.
Now He paid the penalty for sin so that we don't have to. He truly paid the penalty but the issue, then, is not our sin. Too many churches run around trying to make a big deal out of everybody's sin and that's just legalism and it shows a lack of understanding of the whole principle in Scripture called grace. Grace means a free gift; it means unmerited or undeserved favor or blessing. It means you don't get what you deserve; it means we get what we don't deserve. And at the cross Jesus Christ paid the penalty for every sin and when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ God gives to us through what the Bible calls imputation, that means He credits to our account the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ and when God then looks on us and we have the perfect righteousness of Christ legally charged to our account, God then pronounces us justified, at which time we are saved.
Now when it comes to the final judgment the issue there is our works. See, anybody can come along and they can say well, I did all kinds of great deeds, good deeds, I was very altruistic, I went to church, I was involved in religious activities and I was involved in all kinds of ritual but God adds it all up and it still equals a lack of perfect righteousness. God says now the sin is paid for, but I can only have fellowship with a person that has perfect righteousness; if you don't have perfect righteousness then we can't have eternal fellowship. So God says because you lack perfect righteousness you are condemned; that's the point of John 3:18 which says, "he who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who believeth not is condemned already." Notice the issue is not "he that sinned is condemned already," but "he who believes no is condemned already." Why? "Because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." So that's the cross, why the cross is the centerpiece of history. Christ died physically, rose from the dead; the Jews still rejected Him as Messiah so God has to bring them to a point through discipline before they will accept Him as Messiah, before He can return.
That's what happens at the Second Coming. Here's the Second Coming [on the chart] so right now we're in the Church Age, it ends with what is called the rapture of the Church, when Jesus Christ returns in the clouds and all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be instantaneously transferred to heaven. And that will be followed by a period on the earth of seven years of the most horrendous horror, it's going to make 9-11 look… that kind of thing is going to happen on a daily basis for seven years and the earth's population, over half of the earth's population will be killed during that time, before Jesus Christ returns bodily at the end of the battle of Armageddon to save the human race from final self-destruction. That's at the Second Coming. Then He establishes the kingdom on the earth because at that time, at the Second Coming, Israel, all the Jews finally accept Him as Savior.
Now that's the panorama. Now the Jews would be asking, well how come if the plan and purpose of history ultimately revolves around us as Jews, what's going on with us back in the land and why are all these Gentile powers in control. That's why God gave the vision to Nebuchadnezzar of the statue, is so that the Jews would know that God's plan, because they had failed, in the Old Testament God's plan was to operate through these Gentile nations in history and these nations were the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire beginning with Alexander the Great, and then its division among his generals, and then the Roman Empire and finally ending in the Revived Roman Empire that comes together during the Tribulation period.
So that gives us a breakdown and overview of God's plan, basic plan for history. That's announced. Now the second indication that things are going to be different from what the Jews had expected is the announcement in Jeremiah 22 that occurred in 598 BC. Daniel was a student of Jeremiah. Daniel had the scrolls that Jeremiah wrote with him in Babylon and we know that he read them and studied them and in Jeremiah 22 God revealed to Jeremiah and announced the end of the Solomonic dynasty. Remember God had promised David in the Davidic Covenant that he would have an eternal seed, in other words, one of David's descendants would sit on the throne for all eternity. That referred to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the greater son of David who fulfilled over 300 prophecies given in the Old Testament for the Messiah. He would be born in Bethlehem, He would be betrayed by a friend, He would be betrayed for a specific price, and all of the other prophecies related to the coming of Messiah. And He was not a descendant through Solomon. Solomon's line ended with the Coniah curse because Jechoniah was such an evil king God said that never in history again would one of his descendants sit on the throne. So it was through another son of David, not Solomon, but through another son that Jesus Christ would come, that the Messiah would come.
Third point of difference, announced in Ezekiel 8-11, which occurred in 591 BC, the Shekinah glory that visible evidence of the presence of God in the temple in Jerusalem departed. The Shekinah glory had been there, associated with the Ark of the Covenant since the Exodus. During the time of the Exodus it went before the Jews as a pillar of fire by night and as a cloud by day and it led them through the wilderness. It was always there. When Moses went into the Holy of Holies and God spoke with him, when he came out there was a glow on his face, he had to wear a veil over it because it was still reflecting the glory of God from inside the Holy of Holies with the Ark of the Covenant. So the Shekinah leaves, it's a sign that God is now going to judge Israel, He's removing His presence from the nation.
And then fourth, 2 Kings 25, which occurred in 586 BC, we have the fall of Jerusalem. All of these were indications that God's plan for history was going to go in a new direction and from this point on, from the 7th century BC from 600 BC on things would be different. Now there were going to be three new characteristics that were announced in relationship to the kingdom of man. Remember the statue that we just looked at, the statue represents the history of the kingdom of man. The kingdom of man began with the tower of Babel. After the Noahic flood man was supposed to scatter and fill the earth. He failed; instead of obeying God he disobeyed God, set up his own kingdom in antagonism to God. Man was going to make a name for himself and disobey God, so that's the beginning of the kingdom of man concept which goes through history. It began in Babel; it is characterized by man in autonomy, an independence from God and in hostility to God. It is man trying to exercise dominion on the planet apart from God, and what we've been studying Sunday morning, worldly thinking or cosmic thinking, is the human viewpoint thinking generated by man independently of God.
Now the kingdom of man is kept in check; the kingdom of man ultimately is being influenced and motivated by Satan in order to bring in his ultimate kingdom. Now that is held in abeyance until the Tribulation when God pulls out all restraints and everything goes crazy in terms of Satan trying to gain control of human history. So there are these new characteristics and because Satan does not know when that time is going to come, when Jesus Christ is going to return at the rapture, that means that in every time in history, every decade, every generation, he has to have his man, his system, ready to go. That's why you always here… every now and then you'll be in the supermarket and look at the Midnight Globe and you don't want anybody to know you read those things but you'll see the headline on the National Enquirer or one of them, they'll say the antichrist is born some place. Well, it very well could be for that generation, because it's not the rapture generation it never comes to fruition, but in every generation Satan has to be ready with his man, with his plan, with his program, in order to bring about his attempt for world domination.
Three new characteristics are revealed in Daniel on the kingdom of man. The first is that the kingdom of man is going to be based on these Gentile Empires, and it will be through empires that God protects Israel and sets up the environment in which the gospel can go forth. We think about the great empires in the ancient world, during the Babylonian Empire, during the Persian Empire, during the Greek Empire and Roman Empire Jews are scattered. You have the Diaspora that took place in 586 BC. "Diaspora" is the Latin word for dispersion, and the Jews were scattered throughout the Gentile Empire. See, they wouldn't witness to the Gentiles when the Gentiles came to them so God said I'm going to take you out of the land and I'm going to scatter you among all the Gentile nations, so from this point on if you were a Gentile in Greece, or if you were a Gentile in modern Iran or Iraq, in the Persian Empire, and you wanted to know about God then there was a Jew handy who could give you the gospel and could teach you about God.
And so God is now going to scatter the Jews throughout these empires, and it is through imperialism that God is going to bring periods of peace and stability in the history of mankind so that there can be advances, technological advances in human history. The greatest advances that have taken place in human history have taken place during times of great imperial control. It took place under Rome, in the Middle Ages, you had such a fragmentation that there's no great advances that take place until you have […tape turns] …restored through various European dominion in the 16th, 17th century, and then you have as Western Europe comes together and is unified then you have an environment whereby things can advance. Then you have the Pax Britannica, the British Empire in the 19th century and the advance throughout the ancient world. But it is always under the dominion of the West and Western Europe. This is evidenced, even the Bolsheviks in Russia came to control because of the West. It was in 1917 that Bolsheviks would have been crushed except for a gold shipment that came from investors in New York and if it hadn't been for that gold that the Bolsheviks received that brought them arms and weapons they never would have been successful against the Czar. All technology that's been developed in the last 50 or 60 years had its source in the west.
Now you may have great imitators in Japan in other countries in Asia that are manufacturing and developing once the breakthroughs occur but all the breakthroughs occur because of scientists in Europe and America. You know the big joke for those of you old enough to remember, after World War II the story was that our German scientists were better than the Russian German scientists because after World War II the CIA pulled all the German scientists they could out of Germany, all the Nazis and brought them into the US so that we could get a head start on the Russians but the Russians were doing the same thing. They took all the Nazi scientists that they could to Russia. So our German scientists were better than their German scientists, but it ultimately was all development from German scientists.
So all of this shows that Israel has been sidelined during this period but they are still the crux, the focal point of history. Luke 21:24 gives us the terminology. Jesus said during the Tribulation "they will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led captive into all the nations," talking about the Jews, that they "will be led captive into all the nations," this took place in 70 AD, "and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." The "times of the Gentiles" began in 586 BC and from that time to the present, even when there has been a nation of Israel in the land they've been a minority of Jews; not all the Jews have returned, there's just been a minority, most have been in the Diaspora. But once they return to the land it was still under the protection of some Gentile powers. If Western Europe, specifically Britain, the US were to withdraw our protection from Israel it would disappear tomorrow. Israel exists today only because of the protective umbrella provided by the United States and Britain and ultimately in this crisis, the President is putting together this coalition, there's really only us, Great Britain and Israel. And remember that as the days approach because once we start having to do something, like go into Iraq and do some other things we need to do in order to root out these terrorists you're going to see a lot of these coalition allies disappear in a hurry.
All of this is based on the Abrahamic Covenant of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 a specific piece of real estate, He promised seed, the descendants, that would be more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sand on the sea, and blessing. These were later developed in the land covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. We'll come back to that in a moment. All of this relates to the Abrahamic Covenant, so God is going to bless nations because of how they treat Israel. That becomes one of the major causes in history.
The second characteristic of Gentile powers is that the gospel and the Word of God is now going to be carried throughout the nations by the Jews in the Diaspora. The gospel and the Word of God is carried throughout the nations by the Jews in the Diaspora. Jews are no longer a threat nationally, until just recently but that is because, I think, because we are nearing the end of the Church Age and it is part of the angelic conflict but that's another study for another night.
Point number three, the third characteristic is the new norm of the kingdom of man after 600 BC is that God introduces the concept of hope, confident expectation, long-term expectation. Technically Israel could have brought in the millennium in the Old Testament if they had trusted God. But they didn't. I mean just hypothetically. They could have brought in the millennium if they had accepted Jesus as Messiah at the First Advent, but they didn't. What God introduces here with this plan of history is telling the Jews in the Old Testament, it's going to be a long time baby, it's going to be a long time, and it's not going to come together next year or next century, it's going to take centuries before everything is finally fulfilled. So this shows us that history has significance and meaning from a Biblical perspective. That means history, as is so often said, is His story, it is the outworking of the plan and purpose of God. That's why history should be important to every believer because he understand something about history.
Now let's look at something we covered on Sunday morning. This is just a brief review of what's happened in intellectual history or the history of ideas in the last couple hundred years. What we have is a house, picture a house; you have the downstairs where you have the staircase going up to the second floor. Downstairs we have the details of life; tonight we're studying history so downstairs you have the details of history, all the events of history, all the details, the ebb and flow of history. But there's an upstairs where there are universals that exist of absolutes and God, and God is the God of history and God tells us the meaning and significance of history, that it's going in a particular direction, that there is a purpose to the events of history and that ultimately history is going to resolve the various problems that have been generated by evil.
But see what happened historically, as we studied the other night, when a man by the name of Immanuel Kant came along at the end of the 1700s, into the 18th century he said that man really doesn't know, can't know actually, can't know God, can't know universals, all he can know is his own perception. In other words what he said, his a priori idea, that means his preconceived notion was God really can't speak to men; all men can do is tell you what they think about God but it's impossible…see his preconceived notion is its impossible for God upstairs to talk downstairs, you can't get up there any more. He said that staircase doesn't exist. And what that did in terms of the ideas of western civilization was to destroy the meaning in history because now there's no upstairs which gives meaning to history; we're just left to random details.
And so what happens is historians and historiographers tend to use just history and manipulate history just to communicate whatever their agenda is and so they twist and shape it to whatever they want to. And you had all kinds of different ideas that came up in the 19th century, from logical positivism, which said that the basic cause of human history, the basic causative force is just the intellectual evolution of the human race. Now positivism was optimistic but not all systems were. Spengler, Oswald Spengler had a cyclical view of history and he was very negative. Toynbee had a cyclical view of history also, he was more positive. But see, what all these systems are doing, they're trying to interpret history, they're all looking down here in this lower level and they're picking some detail of human experience and they're elevating it and trying to make it, push it up the stairs to give meaning to everything else. That's exactly what Paul talks about in Romans 1, "professing themselves to be wise they become fools, and they worship the creature rather than the Creator." Once you take the Creator out of the upstairs so that the Creator can no longer talk to the creature to tell him the purpose and meaning of life, the purpose and meaning of history, what God is doing, then everybody is just running around guessing. They've all got blindfolds on trying to play pin the tail on the donkey but they've taken the donkey away.
That's where modern man is so no wonder most people think history is boring, because for the last 200 years the intellectuals have done all that they could to destroy history because history is a foundation to understanding many things in the Word of God and if history is irrelevant then that is another assault on the Bible and the Word of God. So they end up with no meaning, no God, existential darkness and despair and everybody just runs around thinking that anybody who believes in God is just some kind of irrational idiot.
Now God says there is meaning to history. Back in Deuteronomy 32 He explained the significance of this to Moses and to the Jews. And He said that Israel was the key to history. In Deuteronomy 32:7 He says, "Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you," see, that's history, go back and talk to your parents, talk to your grand-parents, talk to your great-grandparents about what I did in bringing the nation Israel out of Egypt; it is history, in a space/time event God came down and brought ten plagues on the nation of Egypt and virtually destroyed them, wiped out all the firstborn in every family so that they would finally bring Pharaoh to his knees to release the slaves. And so the nation left, all three million of them, maybe more, and then God delivered them by a miracle in space/time history by separating the waters of the Red Sea, drying the ground instantaneously so that they could depart Egypt across the Red Sea, it happened historically and there were markers. Then when they came into the land He did the same thing again, He split the waters of the Jordan River so that the nation could come in on dry land. There was a miracle there as He's giving birth to the nation, so to speak an then when they crossed the land they were to take these rocks and build a rock cairn or a monument, twelve rocks, as a historical marker. God's not going to do this again but there's going to be this marker there so every time you and your kids are out having a picnic and you see this pile of twelve rocks, you say daddy, what's that there for, and then your dad is going to say okay, this is what God did at this point of time in history. And so God emphasizes the importance of history; history is a record of His actions objectively.
Now he goes on in Deuteronomy 32:8, "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance," that emphasizes the sovereignty of God and that God directs history, and the ebb and flow, and the rise and fall of nations, He gives them their properties, their inheritance that is, the word in the Hebrew indicates their national boundaries, that nations are from God. Internationalism is not from God, God established national distinctions at the tower of Babel for the survival of the human race. "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated," notice this, "when He separated the sons of man," as He divides up the nations, "He set the boundaries of the peoples," that is the Gentiles, "according to the number of the sons of Israel." That means God works out history in relationship to Israel. What's the number one causative factor in history? It's God's plan and purposes for Israel. Secondly it relates to believer. Third, it relates to the pagan practices of Gentile nations, so that when they become perverted to a certain degree, like Sodom and Gomorrah did He brings judgment on them. But primarily it has to do with His plan for Israel and in the Church Age His plan for Church Age believers.
This goes back to Genesis 12:1-3 where God established the Abrahamic Covenant. Now the LORD said to Abram, Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you.  And I will make you" and that includes Abraham and all his descendants, "a great nation, and I will bless you," see, that's grace, Abraham didn't do anything to earn it or deserve it, God freely gave it to him, "I will bless you and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing," and that was a command, it just sounds like it's a declarative statement but in the Hebrew it's a command, you will be a blessing.  "And I will bless those who bless you," and how would people bless Abraham down through the ages? By accepting Jesus Christ as Savior because He is the seed, He is the ultimate focal point; He is the focal point of blessing through Abraham. "I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you," see the word there for "curse," there are two times the English word "curse" is used in this verse but they are different Hebrew words. "…the one who curses you," the first curse is the Hebrew word which means treat you lightly, and the way you treat Abraham lightly, the most basic way, is to reject Jesus Christ as Savior. Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. "…the one who curses you," the one who treats you lightly, "I will curse," and that comes through the eternal condemnation, "the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." How? Because it's through Abraham that Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind will eventually come and anyone who puts their faith alone in Christ alone can have eternal salvation and receive this same blessing. So Abraham then becomes the key and Israel becomes the key to understanding history.
Now the next thing that's going to happen as we get into this, Daniel 7, we're going to have to understand some things about the interpretation of prophecy. There are a number of symbols that are used in this chapter that are used in Zechariah, they're used in Revelation, they're used in Matthew and to understand all those prophecies we have to understand what's going on here in Daniel 7 so we will start there, in Daniel 7:1. I got through 4 pages of 12 pages of notes I had for tonight. This is good stuff, we will have a lot of fun coming to understand this in the coming weeks.